Steamboat Springs Jayne Hill chuckles when asked if she has more fun with the annual Yule Log Hunt than the throng of eager log-hunters.
"It's actually fun to do to see how devious you can be," said Hill, who uses local history to baffle residents with a series of poetic clues.
The 23rd annual Yule Log Hunt begins today with the publication of this year's first clue.
This is the sixth holiday hunt co-organized by Hill, who usually writes all 10 clues during road trips.
Though she enjoys confusing the searchers, Hill makes sure her clues are not impossible to solve. "The museum's purpose is for someone to find it," so the clues get easier as the contest progresses, she said.
The log is hidden outdoors and at least part of it is visible. "Yule Log" is painted in red on the surface of the log.
The 3-foot long, 50-pound Yule Log was hidden in Fetcher Park last year and discovered by Scott Pierce with the help of eight clues.
But the last 12 years of the hunt have been dominated by the Farrell family, which has solved the log's location four times.
"They've made it a family affair," Hill said. They've even asked to keep the Yule Log and make it the centerpiece of their Christmas table during victorious years, she said.
Regardless of who wins, the hunt helps bring residents together, Hill said.
"It becomes a community thing," she said. "People sit around and talk about it, and they learn from it."
The winner must present the Yule Log to a Tread of Pioneers Museum staff member before receiving $100 in Chamber Bucks.
"People just like the challenge," Hill said. "I don't think the money is the motivation, I think they like to try to figure out the puzzle."
The Pilot & Today will publish a new clue in Happenings each weekday until the log is found, or until Dec. 23. If the log is not found by Dec. 26, no prize will be awarded.